In the next five years, the number of mobile phone users will reach 5.9 billion — or 71 per cent of the world’s population. The majority of these new users will be in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Asia, where mobile phones enable access to e-commerce, digital financial tools, educational materials, and a range of other services.
In an increasingly interconnected world, technology is both a driver of some of the challenges Mercy Corps works to overcome — and a potential solution. For example, dangerous speech and fake news spread online and via social media are an increasingly prevalent driver of violent conflict and political events.
At the same time, technology is a powerful way to increase scale, efficiency, and programme quality in our work. For example, with distributions of cash or goods, digital identities can help reduce fraud and ensure that more resources go to the people who need them most.
That’s why our technology team works with field teams and external partners to unlock new possibilities and reach more people through the power of technology. We envision a world of digital inclusion and opportunity where the ethical use of technology empowers secure, productive, and just communities.
We harness technology to improve aid delivery and advance economic development projects. For vulnerable people to receive the right assistance, they must be properly identified and registered by aid systems, which can be enhanced by digital platforms that are integrated with governmental or other NGO systems. And for them to thrive in today’s economy, they must have access to the internet, fluency with online platforms and digital identities — a required qualification for access to social services in many countries.
We are developing digital solutions to tough global challenges, setting an example of the ethical use of technology for our peers, our donors and the governments we work with, and innovating programmes around the world to help create a world of digital inclusion and opportunity. As more and more of the world’s population adopts digital technology, it is important that the humanitarian community meets them with tools they are already using.